WOMEN’S HEALTH

Women’s Health is very complex. Both men and women have many of the same health issues. Often, both sexes experience the same disease differently and have different symptoms, as in the case of heart disease. Some conditions are unique to women like menopause. Some conditions are found more frequently in women than men like migraine headaches, osteoarthritis and other forms of arthritis, depression, and obesity.

Women down through history have been the caregivers. This traditional role leads many women to focus on their spouse’s and children’s health at the expense of their own.

Here are overviews of some of the important topics in Women’s health.

Menopause

Menopause is the end of a woman’s childbearing years and the end of menstruation, her monthly period. You are born with a finite number of eggs. These form in the ovaries and are normally released monthly. Your ovaries also produce the hormones which control your monthly cycle. Progesterone and estrogen tell your body when to ovulate and release an egg and when your period should begin for the month. Menopause is the end of both events. This is a natural event, and a normal part of a woman’s aging process not a disease.

Menopause is a process and occurs gradually over several years. Although menopause is commonly spoken of as a single event, the medical community breaks it up into two sections. The period leading up to menopause is called perimenopause. During this phase, you will begin to see the signs that your estrogen and progesterone production is decreasing, and menopause is in your future. You can experience mood swings, hot flashes, and night sweats. This can last between 4-5 years, but you will still have periods during that time. However, your experience with menopause will be unique to you. For some women, perimenopause will only last a few months. For others, it can last up to ten years. There is no hard and fast rule on your body’s time table.

Bioidentical Hormone replacement is beneficial in reducing may of the physical effects that result from the lack of hormones during perimenopause and menopause.

Migraine headaches

A migraine is a very painful kind of headache. Three times more women than men suffer from this type of headache. Like many medical conditions, they are not the same for everyone. Your symptoms will be unique to you. You may have only a few of the migraine symptoms, or you can experience them all. You will probably feel a throbbing on the side of your head. You can have blurred vision or even a blind spot in one eye before the headache begins. Loud noises and bright lights can make the pain worse. Often, you can feel nausea and even experience vomiting.

Migraines are the result of changes in the chemicals in your blood and the blood’s flow in the brain. There may even be a migraine pain generator in certain people with inherited abnormalities. A migraine headache usually has two stages. First, your brain nerve cells react to a migraine trigger by sending out impulses to the blood vessels. The blood vessels narrow or constrict. As they narrow, the amount of blood circulating in your brain drops. Your body may react with difficulty speaking or visual disturbances. You may also experience a tingling or numbness and/or weakness in one area of your body.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of Arthritis. The cartilage which normally cushions your joints from damage during movement is worn away. Eventually, the cartilage wears away all together and your bones rub against each other every time you move the joint. Bony spurs can grow in the areas around the joint. Bone spurs can also form within the joint in the area the cartilage occupied. All of this excess bone tissue without any cushioning leads to joint stiffness and pain.

Osteoarthritis usually begins after age 40 and gradually worsens with age. Both sexes are affected before the age of 55 years. After age 55, most new cases of osteoarthritis are women. Almost everyone will experience some symptoms of osteoarthritis by the age of 70. The disease can affect all the joints in the body. It is most common in the hands, knees, and hips. All joints that take stress from movement or experience a great deal of repetitive movement in normal day to day activities.

Depression

Depression is a mood disorder where the sufferers feel sad, anxious, or hopeless for an extended period of time. The helpless and worthless feelings last from a few days to several weeks. They begin to impair daily life. You might stop eating and sleeping. Going to work is out of the question, and you lose all desire for social situations.

According to the DSM-IV, a manual used to diagnose mental disorders, depression occurs when you have at least five of the following nine symptoms at the same time:

  • You are down and depressed most of the day especially in the morning.
  • You feel guilty or worthless nearly every day.
  • You feel over tired and have no energy daily.
  • You have no interest in any activities, even those you used to love doing. If by chance you do stir yourself to do them, you get no pleasure or satisfaction as you once did from the hobby or activity.
  • You experience the two extremes of sleep: insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
  • You undergo a change of more than 5% of body weight over the course of a month either a significant weight gain or loss.

Obesity

Obesity is a condition resulting from an overabundance of body fat. The body mass index is the most widely used and accurate method to measure body fat in children and adults. Those with a body mass index between 25 and 30 are classified as overweight. If your body mass index figure is above 30, you are considered to be obese. In the past 25 years, the percentage of Americans who fall into the obese classification has reached 17%.

The words overweight and obesity are often used in the same context. You will also see them substituted or exchanged for one another in popular print sources. Medically, their definitions are different. Overweight means an excess of body weight which includes all tissues. Fat, bone, and muscle are all taken into consideration. Obesity considers only the excess of body fat.

The difference between the modern lifestyle and the lifestyles of our ancestors is one of the factors for the growing number of obesity cases. Instead of burning away the fat, our lifestyle insures that we just keep storing it up. The types of food we eat play a part, but there are other factors involved. Obesity develops in all races, but minorities and the poor are especially vulnerable. It is a question of economics. Overcoming obesity and losing weight requires many lifestyle changes.

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